Justice Mazahar says his rights are being denied; writes to SJC

December 08, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, judge of the Supreme Court, on Thursday said that by not fixing his petitions for hearing, his fundamental rights to access to justice, due process of law, equal protection of law and fair trial are being denied.

In his letter addressed to a three-member committee comprising Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan that fixes the cases filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, Justice Naqvi submitted that the delay in fixing his petitions was causing serious prejudice and was a denial of his fundamental and constitutional rights.

Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. — Supreme Court website/File

The judge recalled that the show cause notice dated 28.10.2023 was served on him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) secretary on 29.10.2023.

The judge said that in his preliminary response to the notice, he called into question the authority of SJC Chairman Justice Isa, and members Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan to consider the matter.

Justice Mazahar said that he sought their recusal, adding that the preliminary response dated 10.11.2023 and the two constitution petitions filed by him in the Supreme Court may be perused for the purpose.

He said that the hearing notice dated 10.11.2023 was issued to him by the SJC secretary for appearance before the council on Nov 20, however, this notice was issued without first addressing any of the issues he mentioned earlier.

Further, the hearing notice did not specify the object or scope or agenda of the meeting scheduled for Nov 20, and it also did not specify the procedure, Justice Mazahar said, adding that his reply to the hearing notice was filed with the SJC secretary on Nov 16. “I reiterated my legal and constitutional objections, including those with respect to composition of the Council and recusal of the chairman and two members.”

Having received no satisfactory response, on Nov 20, Justice Naqvi said, he filed a constitution petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution before the Supreme Court. The judge further said that an application for interim relief was filed with the petition, adding that the petition had neither been numbered nor fixed for hearing till date. He further said that after 10 days on Nov 30, the assistant registrar on behalf of the SC Registrar issued a notice to the advocate-on-record.

“This notice referred to an order (undated) purportedly passed by the Registrar stating that the, ‘AOR be called upon to state whether the petitioner wants to proceed with the said petition’,” the judge said.

He further informed the committee that on Dec 4, the advocate-on-record, on his instructions, submitted a reply to the Registrar’s notice, stating that the notice was ultra vires the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 as well as the Supreme Court Rules 1980.

The judge said that the Registrar was requested to place the petition before the committee for appropriate orders. “I requested that the petition along with the application for interim relief be numbered and fixed for hearing before the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” the judge said but added that the SJC issued a “Revised Show Cause Notice” to him on Nov 24.

He said that it was served on him on Nov 25, requiring him to respond to the allegations within 14 days. He said the revised notice is without lawful authority and of no legal effect as it has been issued without first deciding the legal and constitutional objection raised in his preliminary response of Nov 10 and reply to hearing notice of Nov 16.

The judge submitted that on Nov 30, he filed another petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution challenging the revised notice, adding that an application for interim relief was also filed with the petition. He contended that the second petition has also neither been numbered nor fixed for hearing.

“It is submitted that by not fixing my petitions for hearing my Fundamental Rights, inter alia, to access to justice, due process of law, equal protection of law and fair trial are being denied,” he contended.

The judge submitted that as he has (i) sought the recusal of the chairman and two members of the SJC; (ii) challenged the composition of the council; (iii) objected to the jurisdiction of the council; (iv) submitted that the two show cause notices issued to him are without lawful authority, of no legal effect, void ab initio and non est; and (v) challenged the constitutionality and legality of the invocation of jurisdiction by the council and the proceedings resulting therefrom the committee may be reluctant to list these petitions for hearing because of some perceived conflict of interest.

“The delay in fixing my petitions is, however, causing serious prejudice and is a denial of my fundamental and constitutional rights,” Justice Mazahar contended.